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ex·​act ig-ˈzakt How to pronounce exact (audio)
exacted; exacting; exacts

transitive verb

: to call for forcibly or urgently and obtain
from them has been exacted the ultimate sacrificeD. D. Eisenhower
: to call for as necessary or desirable
exactable adjective
exactor noun
or less commonly exacter


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: exhibiting or marked by strict, particular, and complete accordance with fact or a standard
: marked by thorough consideration or minute measurement of small factual details
exactness noun

Did you know?

Exact derives from a form of the Latin verb exigere, meaning "to drive out, to demand, or to measure." (Another descendant of exigere is the word exigent, which can mean "demanding" or "requiring immediate attention.") Exigere, in turn, was formed by combining the prefix ex- with the verb agere, meaning "to drive." Agere has been a prolific source of words for English speakers; it is the ancestor of agent, react, mitigate, and navigate, just to name a few. Incidentally, if you are looking for a synonym of the verb exact, you could try demand, call for, claim, or require.

Did you know?

Do you exact or extract revenge?

The verb exact (as in, "exacting revenge" or "exacting a promise") is not as commonly encountered as the adjective exact, (as in "an exact copy" or "exact measurements"). Sometimes people will mistakenly use the more common verb extract when they really want exact. Extract can refer to removing something by pulling or cutting or to getting information from someone who does not want to give it. While both words refer to getting something they are used in different ways. You extract a tooth, but you exact revenge.

Choose the Right Synonym for exact


demand, claim, require, exact mean to ask or call for something as due or as necessary.

demand implies peremptoriness and insistence and often the right to make requests that are to be regarded as commands.

demanded payment of the debt

claim implies a demand for the delivery or concession of something due as one's own or one's right.

claimed the right to manage his own affairs

require suggests the imperativeness that arises from inner necessity, compulsion of law or regulation, or the exigencies of the situation.

the patient requires constant attention

exact implies not only demanding but getting what one demands.

exacts absolute loyalty


correct, accurate, exact, precise, nice, right mean conforming to fact, standard, or truth.

correct usually implies freedom from fault or error.

correct answers
socially correct dress

accurate implies fidelity to fact or truth attained by exercise of care.

an accurate description

exact stresses a very strict agreement with fact, standard, or truth.

exact measurements

precise adds to exact an emphasis on sharpness of definition or delimitation.

precise calibration

nice stresses great precision and delicacy of adjustment or discrimination.

makes nice distinctions

right is close to correct but has a stronger positive emphasis on conformity to fact or truth rather than mere absence of error or fault.

the right thing to do

Examples of exact in a Sentence

Verb They would not rest until they had exacted revenge. He was able to exact a promise from them. Adjective Those were his exact words. The exact cause of the fire is still under investigation. We don't know the exact nature of the problem. Predicting the path of hurricanes is not an exact science. The police have an exact description of the killer. Please take the most exact measurements possible. He is very exact in the way he solves a problem. See More
Recent Examples on the Web
But some of America’s biggest failures have been errors of omission rather than commission — cases in which the strategic sin was not doing too much but too little, and in which being overly cautious eventually exacted a terrible price. Hal Brands, The Mercury News, 21 Feb. 2024 The inspectors tested hundreds of exacting standards, with an emphasis on exceptional service, which accounts for 70 percent of a property’s rating. Forbes Travel Guide, Forbes, 20 Feb. 2024 Our early data analysis from one sample city — Syracuse — shows that from 2013 to 2022, hundreds of collisions involving law enforcement vehicles exacted a heavy human and societal toll. USA TODAY, 18 Feb. 2024 To meet the exacting weight and speed requirements stipulated by the owner, CRN also incorporated innovative technologies and materials into the design. Rachel Cormack, Robb Report, 15 Feb. 2024 The swans dropped Truman from their inner circle, exacting revenge through banishment. Julie Hinds, Detroit Free Press, 1 Feb. 2024 The movie, starring Jason Statham as a former operative who exacts revenge on behalf of his friend, was produced and financed by Miramax. Rebecca Rubin, Variety, 28 Jan. 2024 Keanu Reeves is back as the titular assassin to exact even more revenge on those who have wronged him through the shadowy High Table. Chris Snellgrove, EW.com, 26 Jan. 2024 Early Saturday evening, inside a steamy Mar Vista High School gym, Imperial exacted some revenge. Don Norcross, San Diego Union-Tribune, 11 Feb. 2024
Its exact function, though, is unclear, according to published findings in the Earth and Environmental Science Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh journal. Amaris Encinas, USA TODAY, 27 Feb. 2024 Even their exact style, aka the Wool Runners, is available for less. Alyssa Grabinski, Peoplemag, 27 Feb. 2024 Call logs accessed by the Journal Sentinel include the exact latitude and longitude of Waldref's call, placing her at the northwest corner of the intersection. Sarah Volpenhein, Journal Sentinel, 26 Feb. 2024 For more tax tips about settling litigation and all the big tax risks, just be aware that the IRS taxes most lawsuit settlements and exact wording matters. Robert W. Wood, Forbes, 26 Feb. 2024 The exact value of the subsidy vary, depending on the applicant’s income, the value of the home (and the corresponding mortgage), and other factors. Jaime Moore-Carrillo, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 26 Feb. 2024 The Galaxy Ring will have 24/7 health tracking, but Pak couldn't share exact battery life estimations. Julian Chokkattu, WIRED, 26 Feb. 2024 The exact nature of how user data gets used in targeting ads remains a black box. Paolo Confino, Fortune, 24 Feb. 2024 And now, a couple weeks into this year’s spring camp, his exact timetable to return remains unclear. Houston Mitchell, Los Angeles Times, 23 Feb. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'exact.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



Middle English exacten "to require as payment," borrowed from Latin exāctus, past participle of exigere "to drive out, achieve, enforce payment of or the performance of (a task), require, inquire into, examine" from ex- ex- entry 1 + agere "to drive (cattle), be in motion, do, perform" — more at agent


borrowed from Latin exāctus, from past participle of exigere "to drive out, achieve, require, inquire into, examine, measure" — more at exact entry 1

First Known Use


1564, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1533, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of exact was in 1533


Dictionary Entries Near exact

Cite this Entry

“Exact.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/exact. Accessed 3 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 verb
ex·​act ig-ˈzakt How to pronounce exact (audio)
: to demand and get by force or threat
exact burdensome concessions
: to call for as necessary or desirable
exact a high price


2 of 2 adjective
: fully and completely in agreement with fact, a standard, or an original
the exact time
an exact rhyme
an exact replica
: providing great accuracy
exact instruments

More from Merriam-Webster on exact

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